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Health EffectsHealth Effects

The Basics

Changes in the Earth’s climate have the potential to affect people’s health. For example, people can:

  • Be hurt directly by extreme weather events caused by climate change, such as powerful hurricanes.
  • Get heat rashes or heat stroke, and even die from the high temperatures of heat waves.
  • Drown in floodwaters or get injured by falling trees and other debris during severe thunderstorms.
Climate change can also affect people indirectly, through changes in habitat, and the quality of air, water, and food. A drought can hurt crops and lead to food shortages and malnutrition (not getting enough vitamins and minerals). Global warming can increase the areas where disease-carrying insects can live and reproduce, which may lead to more disease outbreaks in new places. In areas hit very hard, global warming can affect the social structure and economy, too.

 

Did you know ?

Climate change may increase the risk of diseases spread by mosquitoes and other insects.

Learn More

Explore the links below to learn more about how climate change can affect your health.

Read About It Read About It

Climate Change and Human Health (Public Broadcasting Services (including their teacher resources)) - Web site that describes how climate change can impact various health conditions and how we can reduce the toxins that cause them.

Climate and Health Program: Health Effects (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - Information about health effects of climate change, including cardiovascular, weather-related mortality, and foodborne diseases and nutrition.

Climate Change (Medline Plus - National Library of Medicine) - Explains how climate change is altering weather and climate patterns that previously have been stable; provides additional links.

Climate Impacts on Human Health (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) - Information on the impact of heat waves, extreme weather events, reduced air quality, and climate-sensitive diseases on human health.

Greenhouse Gases Threaten Public Health and the Environment (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) - News article released by the EPA stressing how greenhouse gases threaten public health and the environment.

Protecting Children's Environmental Health (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) - Explores climate change and how it affects children’s health.